Merek’s first word was “buhk”. When he was 9 months old he became obsessed with Mr Brown Can Moo Can You?. I read it nearly every hour for several days. He would cry when I stopped and I would read it again because finally it felt like something in motherhood made sense to me—something actually fit.
I didn’t settle into motherhood, or excel at, it like I expected. I stumbled through the days and the longer nights.
So when I picked that very first board book, the one with playful kitties on every page, held him on my lap, and turned the pages I was sure he would be distracted in seconds. I expected reality to be different than my expectations. Again. But he watched intently and reached out to carefully touch the bright colors.
In the early weeks after I knew I was pregnant I bought piles of children’s books from Goodwill and used bookstores. The clothes and blankets and tiny shoes came much later, after I collected all my old favorites and filled the bottom bookshelf. I didn’t read any parenting books until after Merek was born. I just bought Bread and Jam for Frances and re-read A Cricket in Times Square.
Today his favorites are We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and Go Dog Go. He can make the “ogh, ogh” for the gorilla and “rarrr” for the lion in Goodnight Gorilla.
He toddles after me as I work around the house, book tight in his fat baby hands, and lifts it up toward me when I turn around. And every time I stop. How could I not?
I don’t say all this as a Mom bragging on her child. Most children love books, I understand.
I say all this because sometimes the places we find ourselves in life—vocations , relationships, life stages—don’t seem to fit us very well. Or rather we don’t fit into them.
Motherhood has been that for me, in many ways I never expected. Domestic arts are not my forte . Oh, how very not! Organization, disciple, and structure are not my strengths. Merek doesn’t know sign language for please or thank you.
Here in these quiet moments throughout the day as I sit on the floor with my baby in my lap and we read through the stack of books he’s carefully piled, everything fits. Just for a few minutes, before I forget he was supposed to be napping an hour ago.
Sometimes all you need are those few minutes of clarity in the middle of all your doubt. Sometimes one more round of Brown Bear, Brown Bear is enough to remind you that you were called to be here all along and this foreign place you find yourself in was not an accident or a mistake.